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Published:  2012-10-11 Views:  405
Author: 
Published in:  Cruises
Encouraging your child to have an interest in cycling is a great way to help them develop, enjoy the outdoors and have fun with all the family. Eventually, of course, you will want them to cycle on their own but what are the options to involve them in your cycling before they can do so?

Children develop at different rates and are not really ready to cycle on their own until some point between their third and seventh birthday. However, that does not mean that you can not engage them in cycling before they are ready to cycle “solo�. There are basically three options available i.e. a bike seat, a bike trailer and trailer bike. So what’s the difference and how should you go about choosing the right one for you?

There are basically two types of bike seat i.e. rear mounted and front mounted bike seats. Rear-mounted child bike seats are the most widely used bike seats. They fit over the back wheel and will usually have a high back and raised sides, leg guards and a harness.

·Pros Younger children are well supported if they want to sleep while you're cycling, you can use the seat to carry shopping when you don’t have your child with you

·Cons Carrying extra weight on the back of the bike can make stability a problem, you can’t see what your child is up to while you're cycling

With a front-mounted type of seat, your child sits in front of you and you place your arms around the seat to hold the handlebars. Because your arms have to go around the seat and your vision of the road needs to be clear, front-mounted seats are more compact than rear-mounted seats. Seats which attach to the handlebars in any way may affect the bike's manoeuvrability and are not recommended.

·Pros You have closer contact with your child and your child is always visible.

·Cons Although popular in mainland Europe, these seats are less generally available in the UK than rear-mounted seats, and may be hard to find.

As your child gets older you may want to consider a bike trailer, in this case your child is strapped into a waterproof trailer towed by your bike. Bike trailers do need a light and a pennant to be legally used on the road. These do have plenty of room and often contain two seats so there is lots of room for toys, teddies or shopping. They are ventilated and often contain clear plastic so your child can see where they are going; some even convert into a buggy. Disadvantages, of course, are that your child is not as close and is out of sight whilst you are travelling.

Finally, as your child becomes even more independent, but not yet ready for their own bike, you may want to consider a trailer bike. These are like a real bike but instead of a front wheel they have an attachment to connect them to an adult’s bike. The child can pedal and feel like they are doing their bit almost like a real cyclist.

Follow these top tips for safe cycling with a child:

·It's not recommended that you take a baby who can't support their own head on a bike. Ideally, your baby should also be able to sit well and unaided.

·Wearing a cycle helmet reduces the risk of head injury by 85% and the risk of brain injury by almost 90%. You and your child should always wear one when on a bike.

·Baby bike seats tend to be designed for use by babies from about six months of age. Whichever design you're interested in, check that your bike is suitable for use with a child seat or trailer, as not all bike designs are appropriate.

·Make sure your seat has footrests to prevent your child's feet becoming caught in the spokes of the wheel.

·Child seats for cycles should carry BSI number BS EN 14344:2004. This shows they comply with required safety standards.

The author is marketing director at My Outdoor Store

The premier walking and hiking outdoor gear store.
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